Your custom logo design is an image that will stay on the minds of your customers for the long haul. Here, we’ll customize a variety of options so you’ll be able to choose what you feel is the most fitting for your brand.
Having a unique and original logo is an important element to make your brand image memorable to your audience. In this guide, we’ll review everything you need to know about great logo design.
But is it saying what you want to say?
Like it or not, you are your logo: As a business and as a potential client or vendor – even as a job seeker or private contractor. It speaks of what you do and how you do it. It’s also who you want to be, your aspirations and goals: It’s the dream of you that you want to share with the world. It’s all in there.
Sure, it’s your brand and identity, but your potential customers aren’t thinking about that. They’re too busy having an emotional reaction. They’re taking it in as a visual handshake – a first impression, your best foot forward, a smiling greeting.
So then, what are they finding in your image? Is it what you want to say? Be assured, if you don’t have a custom logo design, that also leaves an impression – and not one you may not to want to make.
What kind of handshake are you offering? Is it firm and confident, warm and friendly? Or is it cold and indifferent? Are you smart, trustworthy, and stable? Are you someone people want to meet? Your logo is image that conveys all of that.
And this: Your logo – if it’s a good one – can give you the impression of a scale. Even a scale you may not have yet. The great thing about identity is you don’t have to be a major player to look like one.
In 2000, when BP, the British oil and gas company, introduced its new logo to world, they dropped $211 million on the design and roll out. That’s how important it was to them.
What do they know that you don’t?
There’s no reason your version of a logo can’t make you look as big and confident as BP: Or Starbucks, Nike, or McDonald’s. What happens after they’re won over by your logo design is up to you. But first you’ve got to get them to click or call.
That’s what we can do for you.
According to a Princeton study of people’s impressions of faces, it takes less than a tenth of a second to make up your mind. A longer look tends not to help – the mind’s already been made up. People give even less time to judge a website. For that they’ll give you 50 milliseconds. Making a judgment about a great logo design takes a bit longer: 10 seconds. As you can see, there’s no time to waste.
This is why your logo design is so important to your business, no matter what you’re selling. When people see your logo, a conversation starts in their heads about you and your product:
- Who is this?
- Are they trustworthy?
- Are they credible?
- Are they professional?
And there’s data: Research has found that a custom logo design that’s more visual tends to be more effective, even more than the brand name. It’s the first steps on a bridge that creates an emotional connection with your customers.
This should not come as news to anyone. Visual components have long been known as highly effective communication tools: Think of the all-seeing eye, the pharmacist’s mortar and pestle, the doctor’s caduceus, the drama masks of live theater, religious symbols and on and on.
Even the ancients knew the power of visual language. And yet today, surprisingly few companies take advantage of this powerful opportunity.
Being unconcerned about the design that represents you is a luxury you cannot afford. You can thank Starbucks, Target, and Apple for that.
All three have made design an integral part of their identity. All have teams of branding, designing, and messaging experts. It’s the new normal. And even if you don’t your own team, here’s what you can learn from them:
Nike has a CEO with design credentials. Apple built an empire on a great logo design: How do you think a boutique company like that was able to blow past both the giants of Microsoft and Google – and gain more value than both of them combined?
Let that sink in: Venture capitalists won’t invest in companies that don’t get the importance of design.
Even industries that traditionally have had little interest in design – say, like finance or venture capital firms – are increasingly hiring design partners for the companies they invest in.
It’s said that choosing the right color for a logo is as important as choosing the right name. Your color can affect people’s emotions in a far reaching way. Understanding those connections to certain colors could boost your impact significantly.
Think of Apple, what comes to mind? Beige. No way.
Why, then, are YouTube and Target red, Starbucks and Spotify green, and NASA and BMW blue? Because it looks cool? A random, happy accident?
Also, no way. Each of those colors was carefully chosen to effect an emotional response. They’ve cultural associations and even primordial ones. Each custom logo design color was intended to spark a neurochemical reaction in your brain – to reach you on a level that you’re not even aware of. This is part of how a logo works a kind of magic.
A red logo says fire! It’s intensity and passion, aggression and love: Great for Youtube videos and Target, not so for a yoga studio or toddler daycare.
A green logo says harmony, calm, and relaxation. Perfect for a company selling comfort and joy, like Starbucks and Spotify. You think it’s an accident that the dispensary cross is also green?
Blue says confidence, wisdom, truth, and heaven. It’s the sea and the sky: calm and tranquility. Great for those pointing rockets at the stars. But, ever see a Ferrari in blue? Didn’t think so.
On Seinfeld, Jerry once famously said to George: “You know the message you're sending out to the world with these sweatpants? You're telling the world, ‘I give up. I can't compete in normal society. I'm miserable, so I might as well be comfortable.”
George could surrender to not caring, but your business can’t. A bland image is a logo’s way of wearing sweatpants in public. It says “We don’t care about ourselves, why would we care about you?”
And don’t forget your competition: Whether they’re established firms with deep pockets or feisty startups burning through sexy seed money fast. Or maybe, it’s just the mom and pop down the street who’s just smart enough to know how much good design matters – your business is going up against all of them.
It’s basic, really: Look like you care. Look like you know what you’re doing. Don’t get left standing in sweatpants.
Like colors, shape has its own tale to tell: Part storytelling, part psychology. Research says that we humans find some shapes exciting, sparking our brains, and others we see as more serene and calming. Sometimes, we might prefer shapes that have us bounce back and forth between the two.
Here’s how it works:
A circle represents inclusiveness: It has no beginning and no end, it’s encompassing and welcoming. A circle can say commitment, community, friendship, acceptance, and unity. Think of a wedding ring or the interlocking circles of the Olympic Rings.
Curved shapes, including circles, are seen as feminine. They convey positivity, comfort and warmth – a smile.
A triangle represents power, energy, and danger (think of the “Yield” sign). They can be seen as masculine.
Squares are the perfection of balance, stability, and strength. They exude professionalism and efficiency. They’re solid and reliable but can easily look dull without an added interest like color, etc. Squares and triangles both tend to be viewed as gender-neutral. Squares and triangles also represent solidity and conservatism.
Diagonal lines, like triangles, also hint of energy and danger. They’re can also offer a dynamic skew that adds excitement.
It’s complicated. Science tells us humans love rounded shapes and curves. They remind us of cute animals, eating and – let’s call it – mating. In studies people chose the rounded and soft looking furniture over the boxy, more modern looking version for this reason.
Rounded shapes and curves may suit your business or not: Is sensuousness what you’re looking for in an accountant or attorney? Probably not.
On the other hand, we may see sharper, more jagged forms and think craggy rocks and cactus. And under the right circumstances, maybe sharper is what the situation needs. This is why you it’s crucial that you work with a designer who knows the intricacies of both the science and the art. This is why you need an experienced professional.
The brilliance of a logo is that in a single image it can deliver a lot of information in a very short time. Digesting information by reading or hearing takes much longer and you may lose your audience along the way. But with an image, we can perceive it all at once.
Three things about your logo in order of importance (and why it’s better left to the professionals):
3. Content Writing
And it’s not just for swanky boutiques, hipster gastropubs, and disruptive tech companies. Great logo design should matter to everyone.
Even the staid S&P Index has gotten on board: According to a 10 year study, companies on the S&P Index that understood how awesome design is versus those that didn’t outperformed their drab counterparts by almost 220 percent. It’s not just for the cool factor; it’s straight up good business.
And again: Another study done with companies on the FTSE (Financial Times Stock Exchange) over 10 years found – again – that companies that put an emphasis on design outperformed the FTSE 100 index by 200%!
A British government agency study found that for every £100 [$130] spent on design, the business return was £225 [$292].
Their conclusion: Investing in design “is a bit like investing in future profits; it may cost a bit now, but a little down the track...you’ll likely be glad you did so.”
The right look can directly and significantly improve sales, profits, and growth. The right look gives you a competitive edge.
Here’s what else research tells us:
- If you see design as an important part of your business, you don’t need to compete on price as much as others. Uglier competitors will have to compete more on price.
- Those that see a good look as important to their competitive edge, perform better.
- Growth is more likely for businesses who spend on design, and less likely for those who don’t
- Growth is more likely for businesses that spend more on design – logo, website building, signage, etc. Those that don’t are less likely to grow
- A business experiencing rapid growth is twice as likely as their average competitor to have spent more on design; over two thirds would’ve done so recently
Here’s another rule: Design is a key value differentiator. It’s been proven over and over again.
That means, if your logo design looks like the other guys’ logo, why should anyone think your business isn’t also just like the other guys’? And just looking good to you isn’t enough.
In 2015 Adobe published a report on the State of Content and said that with 15 minutes to consume content, 66% of us would prefer to look at something beautifully designed vs. simple and plain. It’s a jungle out there and you need to stand out.
Follow the internet lore of the great logo designs of the world’s top companies and you’ll hear it told how little was paid for the logos we now know to be culturally iconic: Twitter paid $15 for stock and $6 to its designer, Nike paid $35 to a graphic design student, and Google was designed on a free graphics program by one of the co-founders.
- Some of them went type-based, some pictorial and some are a bit of both. Each type of logo has its own virtues.
- Type-based logos are great for communicating a brand name instantly.
- Pictorial logos are good for creating a unique visual representation of your brand to set it apart.
- A combination of the both allows more flexibility and a wider range of applications.
Some companies, on the other hand, believed wholeheartedly in the value of their logo and spared no expense. You have to keep in mind with the below, sometimes these rebrandings include things that a small business owner doesn’t have the scale to worry about, like a huge nationwide marketing plan and, in the case of one example, a complete buyout of a competitor. Still, the expenses have to do with image and how seriously these corporations take their visual impact.
- Pepsi redesigned its logo in 2008 to the tune of $1 million.
- The BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) gave itself a logo makeover in 1997 for $1.8 million.
- Follow the internet lore of the great logo designs of the world’s top companies and you’ll hear it told how little was paid for the logos we now know to be culturally iconic: Twitter paid $15 for stock and $6 to its designer, Nike paid $35 to a graphic design student, and Google was designed on a free graphics program by one of the co-founders.
- When the Australian and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd needed to rebrand, they took two years – 2010-2012 – and 15 million dollars. The sum included a whole new marketing strategy as well.
- Posten Norge, the Norwegian postal service, thought so highly of their rebrand campaign – new custom logo design and marketing – they dropped $35 million. Considering the country’s population, that’s just under $7 a head.
- When the consultancy Arthur Andersen rebranded as Accenture it was one of the most expensive rebrandings of all time: $100 million;
- That is until 2000 when software company Symantec dwarfed that bill with a $1.28 billion dollar one of their own. Though, they also bought out competitor VeriSign in the process.
Designing a custom logo is also something better left to the professionals. Do you have good taste? Have you always had a flair? Not enough.
A great logo design is about more than digging through heaps of font files waiting for something to jump out at you. It’s not about clip art, stock images, and template designs that are available to everyone, everywhere. You don’t want your reputation confused with some shady company using the same art or image. You need something that’s unique, yours and yours alone.
- Fun fact: Ford considered a logo redesign in 1966 and hired heavyweight designer Paul Rand. Rand delivered the redesign but in the end Henry Ford couldn’t pull the trigger – too radical. He thought the public might be too emotionally invested in the original. He may’ve been right.
Before you do-it-yourself, ask yourself these questions:
- Do you know which fonts are the one’s people respond to?
- Do you know the value of negative space, how to space characters and images?
- Do you know what colors are best suited for specific industries or fields.
- Do you understand the minutiae like negative space, spacing characters and images.
- Do you have any training or experience?
- Do you think you can create something memorable your first time at it?
- Does your logo design work whether it’s big or small, black or white?
A lot of people think so, here’s why they’re wrong.
A logo is indeed part of brand. It’s like a building block – one of many. Obviously, a great logo design is a graphic element that can depict your brand visually. This is a lot to ask of a graphic and another reason why this is a professionals job and not one for the hobbyist.
This is where logo-making can get a little esoteric – there’s no set formula to a good logo.
Breakdown some of the world’s biggest brands:
- Google’s is a simple serif typeface.
- Target has a minimal graphic element, often used without any accompanying type.
- Starbucks has a custom logo design that combines a graphic and type.
A great logo design doesn’t happen by accident. Professional logos are made by professional people. Professionals that can take concepts and turn them into visuals – visuals that will make your company look more competitive than the other guy’s.
And here’s why a professional logo, and what we do, matters to you:
The average American is exposed to about 5,000 advertisements and brands a day. Of that raging flood of images, only about 12 will have made enough of an impact to leave an impression. All of us have an attractive bias. We believe that the more beautiful thing is the being better thing, whether it actually is or not.
It’s called attractiveness bias and it’s a thing. It’s part of being a human being. We’re all guilty of it. We can’t help it but we perceive beautiful things as being better, regardless of whether they actually are. We’re suckers. And not because we’re all shallow worshipers of the shiny and the pretty.
Studies have shown that the brain actually has to work harder – it takes more cognitive resources – to look at things that we find less pleasing. Researchers found measurable levels of higher brain activity when people didn’t liked what they saw. This is true for babies and adults. You could say that are brains are wired for it.
The brain reacts more strongly to things it sees as negative. It makes the brain surge with electrical activity.
Put in an even more egghead way: Our love of prettier things is an unavoidable consequence of the mechanics of human cognition and evolution. If you think we humans are too suckered by the pretty, don’t even get started on the cute – babies, puppies, kittens – on that we’re even worse.
But don’t be too hard on them: Being cute improves a baby’s chances of survival.
Across the board, more industries and their customers are getting design savvy.
If your business is in mowing lawns, then probably not. Who cares about your design? Are you going to be here every Thursday? Is my yard going to look good?
But if your industry is involved in high tech? You’re freakin’ right you’ll need the right look. A corporate image that looks no better than our friend the landscaper with a pickup truck is not an option. Your customers – the market – expects it. Demands it. You can’t compete without the right look.
Go right or go home.
There was a time when blindingly good products and marketing could make consumers look past weak design. That day is over.
Design is no longer a luxury add-on or a take-it-or-leave-it accessory. It might’ve been way down on the list behind the sales team, engineers, bookkeepers, etc. In a competitive culture, design is an important tool to be used to build success. If your competition uses it and you don’t, it’ll be your loss.
Remember this: Design is your strategic peer. Your logo, your look, is king. And if it’s important now, it’s going to be even more important for building the companies of the future.
Consider this: Most of everybody is working with the same resources. Everybody’s got the processing power, the broadband speeds, and the cloud services, such as AMP. For most consumer and SaaS businesses, the playing field is pretty tech level. For most startups, it isn't the technology that makes or breaks them.
But you know what does? Design.
Design is could be what separates you from everybody else. All the way down to your custom logo design. Your look and image is an essential to the future success of businesses. It’s unlikely that any company starting today will get out of the garage without a look that tells the market they’re serious and they’re here to stay. Design is now as much a part of the way business is done as is accounting and legal.
If you don’t respect your logo – and along with it your website, business brand, etc. – you’ll get left behind.
Everyone’s dream as a business owner is to bring a company to the market that is so indispensable, so vital, so cool, that some giant will want to snatch them up for an huge buyout.
For 27 in 2010, that dream came true. All of them were acquired by bigger companies like Google, Facebook, Yahoo!, Adobe, Dropbox, and LinkedIn. What did they all have in common? They were all design cool; they were all founded by designers.
And this: Of the VC-backed ventures that have raised more money since 2013, 20% have co-founders who are designers.
Design and the value of designers who can understand and work – especially in the tech industry – is dramatically more attractive in the eyes of tech companies and investors.
Bottom line? Design = $.
If your business is 100% online, your custom logo is more important than ever – and your website.
A bad look, beginning with a badly designed logo and website, insures that your website won’t be read, trusted, or visited for any length of time.
In a study on what keeps people reading a website, with all of the factors mentioned by participants for rejecting or mistrusting what they were seeing, 94% were design related; only 6% were content related. Keep in mind: People are very impatient online.
Poor interface design – your hook to get your visitors interested in you – had a strong correlation with high bounce rates (leaving a site quickly) and a general mistrust of the site. Not only did visitors not want to go beyond the page they’d landed on, they said they wouldn’t even consider coming back to the site again.
If you’re in a business where trust is important, if it’s crucial for enticing and retaining customers, then poor or unprofessional design is doom.
But what if your product or service is complex and/or too technical? If you’re, say, a software developer, a technology-oriented business, or business that simply focuses on making complex information easier to understand, your logo is an opportunity to bring that loftiness down to a level your average customer can understand.
Products we’re using are getting ever more complex. We need the design to break that complexity down for the user and put it in terms they can engage with, to feel confident that they can integrate your product into their life.
And this isn’t just true with logos and websites, it’s also true of package design.
- A case study: Hormel foods, a national brand founded in 1891 – they make SPAM, redesigned their logo by adding a sprig of parsley between the ‘r’ and ‘m.’ The result was customers perceived their products as being more fresh.
Keep in mind that that your custom logo design is a part of your packaging – its color, shape, image, and all that it inspires. If they see nothing to love in your packaging, you and your business are going to get left on the shelf.
We exist in a culture where people can afford to be jaded about design. We have sleek smartphones, inexpensive Modernist IKEA furniture, tablets and laptop computers as fetish objects, this is the world your customers live in.
Well-designed User Interfaces and User Experience design on apps, phone screens, kiosks, and high style websites are a given. For Millennials, it’s all they’ve ever known. This the culture you inhabit: If you don’t respect it you’ll be left behind.
Resistance is futile.
It’s also a startup culture. And while it’s true that startups have a failure rate of 50% in the first 5 years, they’re seen as the leading edge of culture. But even they get it: Tech startups hire designers at a rate of one-to-four compared to engineers.
Think of design as the fifth column in business in the new business model.
It’s been said that this shift toward design is as large a societal change as the industrial revolution. Make no mistake: This is big stuff.
The great news is, great design, a great logo, is something you can buy. With good design you don’t necessarily have to out-innovate your competition. You just have to look like you could.
You’re spending money. Most likely you don’t have Shark Tank money or rich parents so your budget is tight. Then, you want to know: Just how will a new logo design benefit my company and my business? What can I expect as a ROI and will it have a long lasting impact on my company?
Before you can get the most out of a new logo design, you’ll need to understand your company’s purpose and what its best value proposition is. Your logo will help exploit this value by incorporating those ideas into its design.
You could help this along by having a well-formed mission statement outlined and having the basic groundwork laid. A logo works best once that foundation is laid.
To help in the design process, you’ll need to have answers to these questions:
- How would you like your customers to see you?
- How they actually see you?
- How do you see your business evolving over the short and longer terms?
Round 1: The Initial Discovery and Exploration Process
- You’ll have a meeting with one of our design professionals. Here, we will begin to build a design brief. The best logo design projects start with developing an in-depth understanding of your company and its world.
- What was your business inspiration? Knowing the answer to this allows our designer to make creative decisions that will best resonate with you and vision.
- When we have a full understanding of where you are and where you want to go, we’ll be able to better position your brand in a way that meets your goals.
- Who’s your competition? Giving us some idea of your business landscape will help us create a websitex with branding that will help your business stand above the rest.
- Also, how do you do business, what’re your aspirations, what’re the values of your brand that allows you to connect with your customers.
Round 2: The First Stage of Development
- After we have the information, our experienced design professionals can begin the work of building your design.
- Every great logo design begins with preliminary sketches and visual brainstorming. With these are the first steps of conceptualization, we begin on the path to uncovering the best solution for you.
- We may work with mood boards and other reference imagery and inspirations, both from the client and of our own. At this stage we being to imagine color and shape and begin constructing the bones of the design.
- We begin to experiment with fonts, creating logotypes and logomarks, and integrating type.
- The strongest logo design concepts are collated into a client presentation.
Round 3: Presentation and Client Input
- Three drafts of executions of your custom logo are presented.
- We advise clients to at least spend a few days, to a week, with the initial concepts, although first impressions are also worth noting.
- It is also useful to print them out, post them around the house or office and live with them for a time. Try to imagine encountering them out in the world as would your potential customers.
- You may want to get feedback from friends, family, associates, and employees.
- Note the responses, even if mixed. All input can help us in refine and improve a direction that best serves you.
- After that, another client consultation can be arranged and feedback shared.
- We may have more questions at this stage to further extract detailed feedback from the client.
Round 4: Second Presentation Stage
- At this stage we’ll strip away things that don’t work and develop the ideas that do. More intercommunications may follow.
- The client may require little discussion or changes at all. Very often this is the case. Otherwise, the logo getting very close to its final form now.
- After the first presentation we will go through two rounds of changes if necessary. Any uncertainties and refinements are addressed now. Any final tweaks will take place here.
Final Presentation of Files
- Files are created in Adobe Illustrator. We can provide vector art which can be exported to any format required.
- The standard files consist of: .AI (for future editing if desired), .EPS / .PDF (for printing), .JPEG (for viewing) and .PNG (with a transparent background for web use).
- The Vector file formats allow for the maximum range of output because you can scale the size without a loss of quality or sharpness.
- This allows your logo design to look great whatever size it’s outputted; from a business care to a billboard. It’s completely scalable.
- The project’s final files will be arranged in such a way so it’ll be clear how they’re to be used.
- All the appropriate formats and layouts are included, along with monotone black and white versions for varied usage backgrounds. Everything you need!